November 16, 2011
Canada routs St. Kitts, looks to next round
By Morris Dalla Costa, QMI Agency
It isn’t often that Canada’s national men’s soccer team lives up to its promise or promises.
It did both Tuesday.
Canada completed its second round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with a 4-0 win over St. Kitts and Nevis at BMO Field in front of 10,235.
Canada finishes qualifying with four wins and two ties in the group. It was St. Kitts first loss.
The game might not have meant anything in the standings but it meant a great deal for Canada’s peace of mind.
Canada’s head coach Stephen Hart hoped for a breakthrough of some sort. He wanted to give the fans an entertaining game. He was looking for his team to play better and score some goals.
Playing well was something this team needed to do for their confidence going into the semifinal qualifying round beginning next June.
The team that didn’t look good during a 0-0 draw in St. Kitts on Friday made Hart look like a prophet Tuesday.
“We talked about it before the game that we owed (the crowd),” said Hart. “Our mentality right from the kickoff was to put them under pressure and create opportunities . . . and to try and be more composed in front of the net. We scored three goals and could have had a lot more.”
CONCACAF Round 3 will be made up of three groups of six teams each. The top two from each group will move into the final qualifying tournament. Canada is in a group with Honduras, Cuba and Panama.
It was a good win against St. Kitts but they will never be mistaken for Honduras or Panama.
Canada still needs to improve considerably if they want to make it out of the next qualifying round but their effort in its final game was heartening.
“We wanted to do it for the fans,” said Canada forward Tosaint Ricketts, who scored a goal in his first start for Canada. “We didn’t have a good game last game but we wanted to show fans at the BMO what we could do on home soil.”
Dwyane De Rosario on a penalty, Josh Simpson and Olivier Occean had the other goals. De Rosario’s marker was his 19th with Canada’s senior team, tying him for the lead among all-time scorers with Dale Mitchell.
Despite qualifying before the final game of the group stage Canada didn’t look like a team prepared to trouble the better teams it will face in the semifinal stage. Canada had scored 14 goals going into Tuesday’s game, conceding one, but seven of those goals came in one game. Against some of the weaker soccer nations in the world, much more was expected.
The game also provided an opportunity for Hart to have a look at some of the other players that might see some time in the next round.
It was worth the looking.
Ricketts caught his eye as did several others. Players have been returning from injury and that’s good news for Canada.
“We have a squad that once our players come back there will be lots of competition for places,” Hart said. “Some of the young players showed that they deserve to play . . . We may have more depth than we thought.”
Patrice Bernier saw his first action in this round in the midfield while Ashtone Morgan and Ricketts made their second appearances but first starts for Canada. It was also goalkeeper Kenny Stamatopoulos’ second appearance.
“We always have to outwork our opponent,” De Rosario said. “We’re gradually growing towards that. These games created an opportunity to grow and develop as a team.”
Hart knows though it will only get tougher just as he knows what Canada needs to improve if they want a chance at final qualifying.
He was pleased his club only gave up one goal and earned five clean sheets. Most of the problems came from the front.
“If you look at all the games, our ball possession at times could be better,” he said. “We’re in a situation where we’ve created chances and we have to take those chances.”
The next round begins in June with the location of Canada’s home matches still to be decided.
Round 3 qualifiers
June 8, 2012—Canada at Cuba
June 12—Honduras vs Canada
Sept. 7 –Canada vs Panama
Sept. 11—Canada at Panama
October 12--Cuba vs Canada
October 16—Canada at Honduras